• Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (left) and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton speak during a press conference (AAP)
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists citizenship must reflect Australian values as he unveils tighter requirements for new applicants.
20 Apr - 12:08 AM  UPDATED 20 Apr - 7:39 PM

The Federal Government wants to test the "Australian values" of those hoping to become citizens, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announcing stricter immigration laws.

Migrants will have to answer a tougher citizenship test, be a permanent resident for four years instead of one, and prove their English language ability as part of their application process to become Australian. 

Could you pass Australia's old citizenship test?
The government argues the old citizenship test was too easy. Try it yourself.

“What we’re doing is strengthening our multicultural society and strengthening the commitment to Australian values,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.

Applicants will also need to demonstrate their integration to Australian society through work, their respect of women as well as receive criminal background checks.

“This is about strengthening the Australian values which are at the heart of citizenship, of being an Australian citizen,” Mr Turnbull said.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said it’s not about asking hopeful citizens “to abandon their heritage or their culture or their background” but to honour the values most Australians hold dear.

WATCH: Dutton on citizenship changes

The citizenship test - which consists of 20 multiple choice questions - is to be revamped to include reading, writing and listening components, and will pose moral questions, such as whether respondents agree with hitting a spouse.

Minister Dutton acknowledges “people will lie,” and that they already do on the current test but that there are safeguards in place.

"The fact that somebody might fudge an answer on a test or an application is no argument against us asking people if you want to become an Australian citizen, abide by our laws and our norms," Mr Dutton said.

“If somebody lies in an application, if they are fraudulent in their application for Australian citizenship, then there is an existing power under the Act in certain circumstances to revoke that citizenship.”

Related reading
Immigration should be made easier, not harder: FECCA
The Australian Government should be making it easier, not harder, for people to become citizens, according to the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia.

If an applicant fails the test more than three times they’ll have to wait another two years before sitting it again.

"Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia," the Prime Minister said.

Mr Turnbull said on Thursday that he plans to brief Labor and crossbenchers about the reforms, but highlighted the need for bipartisan support.

WATCH: PM warns businesses after 457 visa program scrapped

Malcolm Turnbull's citizenship crackdown comes just two days after the prime minister outlined an overhaul of the 457 temporary foreign worker visa system.

"Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia," he said.

"We must ensure that our citizenship program is conducted in our national interest."

The government is also pursuing several other citizenship reforms, which will apply to all new applicants, including:

  • Applicants must show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community (evidence of employment, membership of community organisations, school enrolment for all eligible children);
  • The citizenship test will include "new and more meaningful questions" about an applicant's understanding of and commitment to Australia's shared values and responsibilities;
  • Applicants who cheat during the citizenship test will automatically fail.

Any conduct inconsistent with Australian values will be considered as part of the citizenship process.

"Criminal activity including family violence or involvement in organised crime is thoroughly inconsistent with Australian values," Mr Turnbull said.

Immigration Minister suggests changes to citizenship test
SBS World News Radio: The Immigration Minister says Australia's citizenship test should focus more on questions relevant to societal values and integration instead of 'trivia'.

Prospective citizens with a permanent or enduring incapacity, as well as those aged under 16, would be exempted from the English reading, writing and listening test.

The prime minister said five million people had committed to becoming Australian citizens since 1949, helping to secure and enrich the nation.

Wong rejects crackdown

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong doesn't understand the need for the changes.

"If English grammar is the test there might be a few members of parliament who might struggle," she told ABC radio.

The existing pledge ensured new citizens committed loyalty to Australia, its people and its laws.

"I think those sentiments are pretty good," Senator Wong said, noting the opposition was yet to see the details.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is again taking credit for the government's latest crackdown.

"Good to see the PM is finally acting on the suggestions I made to him about the citizenship test," she tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Senator Hanson said while the government might deny it was talking tough on temporary foreign worker visas because of One Nation, "we all know the truth".

"Looks like Malcolm Turnbull has been reading One Nation 2016 campaign flyers for inspiration. Should I get a speech writing credit?" she said.

with AAP

Concerns from business, Migration Council over 457 visa's demise
SBS World News Radio: The Turnbull Government is pressing ahead with sweeping changes to Australia's skilled migration system, as its abolition of the contentious 457 visa comes into effect.
Concerns 457 visa changes will create 'guest worker' system
The government's 457 visa reform could lead to a "guest worker"-style system in Australia, the Migration Council warns.
Cooks, coders and carpenters: Can you get the new 457 visa?
INTERACTIVE: The popular permanent residency pathway has been blocked for people in jobs representing more than half of Australia's temporary foreign skilled workforce.
'Prioritise Australian workers': PM warns businesses after 457 program scrapped
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says employers who don't try to hire Australians first will be named and shamed in an overhaul of the 457 foreign worker visas.
'Short on detail': Plan to abolish 457 visa creates uncertainty
The government’s sudden cancellation of the 457 foreign worker scheme has spread uncertainty and panic among applicants and businesses, immigration advisers say.
Government replaces 457 visas with new temporary skilled worker visas
SBS World News Radio: The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has announced he will abolish the 457 temporary skilled worker visas and replace them with a new skilled visa program.
'Australian workers must have priority': Turnbull scraps 457 visa program
The federal government says it will abolish the 457 visa program that allows skilled foreigners to work in Australia.
Property sector scrambling to recruit Chinese real estate agents on 457 visas
Australia doesn't have enough Chinese-speaking real estate agents, according to the latest figures on the 457 visa program.